At the 2020 Petcore Conference this year in Brussels, Gian de Belder, leader of the Holy Grail project and Sustainability and Circular Economy Scientist at P&G announced that P&G’s Pioneer Holy Grail project, which kicked off in 2016, would finally be bearing fruit. The company will be introducing the digital watermark technology tested during the project in its Lenor Beads and Unstoppables scent boosters packages in Germany, he said.
The Pioneer Holy Grail project, which officially ended last year in May, demonstrated the potential of digital watermark technology, making use of tags, or codes – barely visible to the human eye - integrated into printed materials, such as labels, sleeves, in-mould labels, films/pouches, or even directly into a mould, in the case of PET bottles, HDPE bottles, thermoformed trays, injection moulded crates, etc., thus giving them an ‘identity’. This identity could include attributes such as type of plastic, product manufacturer, contents - food or non-food - and its barrier layer composition. In this way, packaging becomes intelligent: the stored information can be used along the entire value chain, and the complete life cycle of a piece of packaging is made transparent.
The technology is being further advanced and readied for the marketplace in the new follow-up to the pioneer project - Holy Grail 2.0, in which currently numerous participating companies are preparing for the next stage: digital watermarks to promote sustainable management of plastic (packaging) waste. US-based Digimarc, a pioneer in automatic recognition technologies, is collaborating with stakeholders in the project. The digital watermark technology developed by Digimarc is being used by P&G in their initial roll-out.
Holy Grail 2.0 was sucessfully launched during K 2019, with the first test carried out at sorting technology specialist Tomra’s recycling headquarters in Mülheim-Kärlich, Germany, an event that drew 140 attendees.
Tomra was a key development partner in the Pioneer project and continues to collaborate on the follow-up 2.0 project.